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 Home > News & Policies > August 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 22, 2003

Fact Sheet: President Bush Highlights Salmon Recovery Successes
President Bush Highlights Salmon Recovery Successes

"This state [Washington] faces a challenge: to save its salmon. For fishing families and businesses, [the salmon] are a vital resource. For Native Americans, they are a cultural cornerstone. For all of us, these fish are a wonder of nature, and they must be restored. "

-- George W. Bush, September 12, 2000

Today's Presidential Action

Today, President Bush visited Ice Harbor Lock and Dam, near Pasco, Washington to highlight the significant steps his Administration has taken to increase salmon populations while providing affordable hydro-electric power to Americans living in the Pacific Northwest. The President also announced the approval of a landmark habitat conservation plan agreement between the Administration and the north-central-Washington Chelan and Douglas public utility districts. This will allow continued operation of three hydroelectric dams while providing for the protection of salmon stocks.

Background on Today's Presidential Action

President Bush is committed to aiding salmon conservation efforts. Through Administrative actions and yearly funding increases, the President led the restoration of endangered salmon runs while leaving Federal dams in place that provide power to local communities.

Improving Salmon Returns:

  • Salmon returns in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho have improved dramatically. On the Columbia/Snake River salmon run, seven of its eight endangered salmon have shown marked improvement since 2000.
  • The State of Washington's Department of Fish & Wildlife reported a record-setting 2003 spring chinook run.
  • Steelhead returns at Bonneville, Oregon in 2001 and 2002 were the two largest returns on record.
  • Mid-Columbia River steelhead reached a 22-year high in 2002 with more than 30,000 returning fish.
  • More than 8,500 Snake River Fall chinook passed Lower Granite Dam in 2001. This represents the highest return since counts began in 1975.
  • Oregon Coast coho returns have increased from 22,000 in 1997 to nearly 268,000 in 2002.

Supporting Salmon Recovery and Affordable Power:

  • The vast majority of Pacific Northwest power is derived from hydroelectric dams, including 80 percent for Washington State. The President is committed to keeping the dams in place to ensure affordable power, while supporting effective, locally-led salmon recovery efforts.
  • New technology and efforts by Federal hydro operators have substantially improved survival for salmon migrating through dams as juveniles and adults.
  • President Bush announced the approval of a landmark habitat conservation plan agreement by Commerce Secretary Evans and the north-central-Washington Chelan and Douglas public utility districts. This will allow three local hydroelectric dams to continue providing power to over 52,000 local consumers and many more regional power users while providing benefits for salmon in the Columbia River.

Supporting Collaborative Local, State, and Tribal Salmon Efforts:

  • Federal agencies are working collaboratively with the State of Washington and Indian tribes to implement the Washington Forests and Fish Agreement.
  • The President, working with the State of Oregon, has pledged $250,000 to expedite biological and technical review of Oregon Coast coho salmon recovery measures.
  • Federal agencies will soon approve urban road maintenance plans in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California that will allow projects to move forward in a timely manner while protecting salmon.
  • Federal agencies have been actively participating in and supporting the Shared Salmon Strategy in Washington State to develop a collaborative plan by local, state, tribal, and Federal governments to recover Puget Sound chinook salmon.

Funding Increases and Results:

  • Each year, the President has increased funding for coastal and riverine salmon recovery efforts. The FY 2004 budget request of $707 million is $165 million more than the amount enacted in FY 2001. This funding is allocated to Federal agencies that annually contribute towards salmon recovery as well as to the Pacific Salmon Recovery Fund which is used to assist states, tribes, and local governments that carry out additional salmon projects. Federal agencies contributing to salmon recovery include the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, and Departments of Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Over the past three years, the President's budget included requests to fully fund the Pacific Salmon Recovery Fund. This would assist states, tribes, and local governments with thousands of projects that benefit Pacific salmon in Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska. In addition, the President's 2004 budget seeks more accountability in the use of these funds.
  • During 2002, modifications at the 10 major Columbia/Snake River dams have improved fish passage and survival, 700 miles of streams are now accessible to salmon, and 19,000 acres of streamside buffers have been protected in the Columbia Basin.
  • The President has requested funding for the reform and improved operation of dozens of hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest. These hatcheries are a vital component of salmon recovery efforts.
  • The FY 2002 budget included $2 million in new funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to initiate important salmon habitat work on the Lower Columbia River Estuary.

For more information on the President's initiatives, visit